TOPEKA – A Kansas Senate committee on Tuesday sidestepped a proposal to allow a hemp treatment for seizure disorders,
The proposal called “Otis’ law” would be better considered in the Senate’s health committee, some members said.
It was sent without recommendation from the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee to the Senate, where committee chairman Sen. Greg Smith, an Overland Park Republican, said it can be reassigned.
The committee backed a separate section in the bill that reduces penalties for first and second marijuana offenses.
Rep. John Wilson, who has championed Otis’ law, said he was disappointed at the lack of immediate action but held out hope there was still a path for passage.
“I realize we have more work to do,” said Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat. The measure was approved in the House last year.
Tiffanie Krentz of Topeka made a plea last week to the committee for her son J.J., an 11-year-old who suffers seizures from a severe form of epilepsy. She said she will continue to fight for the legislation.
“I’m not going to give up,” she said. “There’s nothing left for my son.”
Called hemp oil by some, it’s a cannabidiol (CBD) product that comes from the marijuana plant and is not intoxicating because it’s low in tetrahydrocannabinol. It is not FDA-approved.
Otis’ law is named for the son of Ryan and Kathy Reed, former Lawrence residents who moved to Colorado two years ago for access to CBD. Otis was diagnosed with a catastrophic type of infantile epilepsy.
Sen. Jeff King, an Independence Republican, said he wanted to offer help to families who were suffering, but he worried about circumventing the FDA, which has not approved CBD treatment.
Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Louisburg Republican, voiced similar concerns but said she sympathized with parents who “just want to do everything they can for their children.”
Krentz said the family has tried 16 different medications for J.J.’s condition, called Dravet syndrome.
“It’s hard to hear that because it’s not FDA-approved, we can’t try it,” Krentz said.
Kiley Klug of Odin in central Kansas came to the Capitol last week with her husband Gavin and son Owen to testify for CBD treatment. Owen, 8, also has Dravet syndrome and suffers many seizures a day despite a long list of medications.
“We are pretty discouraged that we have to start all over,” said Kiley Klug, who said she was speaking not only for her family but for many others she’s in contact with across Kansas.
“We’re far from done,” she said. “We understand the political journey is a long one. Though our children don’t necessarily have that time, we don’t have any choice but to take that journey.”
Smith said his committee was not the proper place for health proposals and that he would ask Senate leadership to reassign the Otis’ law proposal to the Senate’s health committee.
The measure on marijuana possession convictions would reduce a first offense to a lower-level misdemeanor and a second offense from a felony to a misdemeanor.
The reductions had the backing of the Kansas Sentencing Commission, which estimated it would save 57 prison beds the first year.
But the committee also approved a new section in the bill that would increase penalties for residential burglaries when a person is present.
King, who recommended the measure, said it would increase the number of prison beds needed by 89 but he planned to propose other legislation that would save prison beds.
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